Car running costs 2021: Victoria's cheapest utes

Mitsubishi Tritons in the outback

Tim Nicholson

Posted September 08, 2021

Mitsubishi tops three key segments for the second year running, including Victoria's most affordable 4x4 dual-cab ute.  

Utes have evolved dramatically in the past 20 years. Car-based utes like the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore were once the favoured body style of Aussie tradies and farmers, but those models have disappeared following the closure of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry. 

Even the one-tonners of decades past are unrecognisable compared to today’s offerings. Gone are the low-rent clapped-out Holden Rodeos and rusty Datsuns. These days a top-spec ute could set you back about $70,000, and they are fitted with creature comforts and safety gear you’d expect in a premium car.

Whether you’re using one as a workhorse or as family transport, there’s no shortage of dual-cab utes to pick from. In fact, the two best-selling models in Australia this year are the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. 

RACV’s 2021 Vehicle Operating Costs survey has found that when it comes to affordability, two-wheel-drive (4x2) utes cost an average of $1303.54 per month to own and run, while four-wheel drive (4x4) utes are $1533.62, which is more than double the average monthly price of light passenger cars. 

Big 4x4 SUVs are all the rage at the moment, with Australians forced to holiday at home rather than heading overseas. The uptick in caravan sales has prompted an increase in sales of all-terrain vehicles. They cost more on average than any other vehicle category in this year’s survey at $1634.29 per month. 

Mitsubishi Triton GLX.
Volkswagen Amarok TDI240 Core.
Isuzu D-Max SX.

Most affordable 4x2 dual-cab utes 

These entry-level, 4x2 dual-cabs are more likely to be purchased as work vehicles, but they can still get pricey. However, the most affordable model for the second year running is the Mitsubishi Triton GLX at $1190.76 per month. 

Ford’s Ranger is set to be replaced next year with an all-new model, but the current version still represents good value at $1236.31 in XL Hi-Rider guise. Isuzu’s new-generation D-Max SX, which landed a year ago, is in third spot on $1285.15

The Mazda BT-50 shares everything but its front-end design with the D-Max, and it is slightly pricier at $1341.57 per month. Just behind it is the Toyota HiLux SR on $1364.79, while last year’s priciest model, the Nissan Navara ST, is once again the most expensive 4x2 ute on $1402.64. 

See the full results of the 4x2 dual-cab utes category from this year's Vehicle Operating Costs survey.


Most affordable 4x4 dual-cab utes

Mitsubishi retains its top placing from last year with the Triton GLX 4x4 at $1269.34, highlighting the value of its Triton range.

The Volkswagen Amarok TDI420 Core jumped a spot to second this year on $1425.78. Switching places with the Amarok this year is the D-Max SX in third on $1455.79.

The Ford Ranger XL, Mazda BT-50 XT, Toyota HiLux SR and Nissan Navara ST all follow with just $60 separating them, but the priciest 4x4 ute once again is Toyota’s iconic V8-powered 70 Series LandCruiser Workmate on $2049.82. Its purchase price, which is more than $20,000 dearer than the next most expensive model in this category, doesn’t help. 

See the full results of the 4x4 dual-cab utes category from this year's Vehicle Operating Costs survey.


Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX.
Toyota Fortuner GX.
Isuzu MU-X LS-M.

Most affordable all-terrain wagons 

The majority of these 4x4 wagons are based on the aforementioned utes, meaning they are virtually identical under the skin, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Taking out the trifecta, Mitsubishi nabs top spot for the most affordable all-terrain vehicle with a monthly spend of $1367.32 for the Pajero Sport GLX. 

The recently updated Toyota Fortuner GX takes second on $1422.46, while Isuzu’s brand-new MU-X LS-M lands in third on $1495.97. Ford’s Everest Ambiente rounds out the ute-based models in this category on $1524.58. 

That leaves Toyota’s perennial favourite, the Prado GX, as one of the priciest models here on $1658.08 per month. But the most expensive in the category, and indeed the entire survey, is Nissan’s big V8-powered Patrol Ti, which will cost you $2337.33 a month to own and run. Not that it seems to have dented the Patrol’s popularity. It’s currently enjoying some of the strongest sales it has experienced in years.  

See the full results for the all-terrain wagon category from this year's Vehicle Operating Costs survey.